Lone star

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Just before 10.30pm last night Ellen MacArthur finally conquered the storms, the becalmings, the whales and the solitude to beat the Frenchman Francis Joyon's round-the-world sailing record. It is a spectacular achievement; for a sailor of only 28 making her first attempt at the record, it is a triumph ­ which this country will embrace as its own. She brings right up to date an honourable tradition of solo British sailors, from Francis Chichester to Robin Knox-Johnston and Chay Blyth. What an inspiration for all of us, what a boost for the sport of sailing ­ and what a challenge for the French! The flotilla accompanying her into port and the ecstatic crowd gathered on shore are indeed richly deserved.